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The Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders Have Some Interesting Vocations in the Vacation Capital

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Ingredients: Start with two pearl divers, add one dolphin trainer, vigorously stir in an inspector of damaged freight who has danced on cruise ships, include one finance major, shake in a belly dancer, insert a Radio/TV Broadcast major, introduce a Disney World entertainer, choose to pop in either Dr. Seuss’s Thing 1 or Thing 2, rub in a massage therapist, sprinkle in an early childhood education student, brush in an art major, and supplement with additional devoted dancers, originally from San Jose to Boston, as needed, for a total of over thirty beautiful and talented women.  Directions: Spread over the sidelines of a pre-heated Orlando football stadium, add choreography, and provide water and Gatorade for proper hydration.  Wait for the ‘pop’ of high energy sidelines dance and personality, and, voila, you have the inaugural Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders!  May be served with or without Betty Boop.

The Tuskers Cheerleaders are one of the brand new UFL cheerleading squads, and keep a busy schedule, especially on their Orlando game days.  UFL Cheer Director Billie O’Hara filled me in on their agenda for the last UFL home game of the season, on November 11th against Hartford.  Billie said, “The Cheerleaders will take the field at 3 for field rehearsal.  After that, we have our pre-game meal. Then we go into hair and make-up. The girls perform on the FanFest stage typically around 6:00 for a 7:00 game. There, they perform a routine, take pictures, sign autographs and ‘mix-n-mingle’ for about 15 minutes. Back to the locker room for final touch ups before we head to the tunnel for introduction and performance. The girls perform five routines per game!”

The Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders greet fans at pre-game FanFest

The Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders greet fans at pre-game FanFest


The importance of the role of the Tuskers Cheerleaders for this UFL squad is demonstrated by some unique events at the games.  Prior to the game, the Tuskers Cheerleaders leave their tunnel in single file and line up along the sidelines.  Then, just like the players, but better because it involves the each member of the squad, every Tuskers Cheerleader is announced by name, and then runs out to midfield.  Also, during each quarter, the Cheerleaders break from sideline formation, and distribute autographed cards to the fans, and after the game they gave away signed squad posters.   During the game, the Cheerleaders also performed numerous sideline routines, and five routines on the field, including changing into some ‘Daisy Dukes’ and performing to some Shania during the third quarter.

Tuskers Cheerleaders' third quarter routine

Tuskers Cheerleaders' third quarter routine

In addition to the squad, Betty Boop was on the sidelines.  Betty is the “Official Fantasy Cheerleader of the UFL” and is on also featured on some cute garments in the concession booths.  Billie says, smiling, “I help Betty get around at games and make sure she knows a few of the sidelines. She shares the locker room with us and comes to rehearsal, too! She’s the cheerleaders’ number one fan!”

Betty Boop on the pre-game FanFest stage

Betty Boop on the pre-game FanFest stage

During their last UFL home game of the season, the Tusker Cheerleaders lit up the sidelines on the field, but some of their “off the field” jobs, hobbies, and interests are quite unique, which I guess is expected in central Florida which has some truly unique opportunities.  As Renee says, “There are 32 girls on the team and everyone is unique in their own way.  Everyone has their different jobs outside the Tuskers, from massage therapist to pearl diver at Sea World.  And there is me with my strange part-time job of inspecting damaged freight in the Orlando area, when I am not teaching dance fitness class.”

How many pro cheer squads can say they have not only one pearl diver, but two!  And they’re sisters!  Kimberly M and Courtney M are the pearl divers at Sea World.  In addition, next store at Discovery Cove, Kyle works with the dolphins (insert envious weeping here).  Discovery Cove is a really great place where you can swim with dolphins and other sea life, but the funnest part is you can go barefoot all day!  Down the road, Kristin works at Universal Studios sometimes as Thing 1 or 2.  But the unifying factor for these women is dance.  Most of the squad having been dancing since they were teeny, and varied aspects of dance are a big part of their lives.  Loren is even a belly dancer.

Kimberly M is a pearl diver at Sea World

Kimberly M is a pearl diver at Sea World

Kyle trains dolphins at Discovery Cove

Kyle trains dolphins at Discovery Cove

I was able to ask a few of the Tuskers cheerleaders about their interests, like their favorite local theme parks, where they like to vacation when they leave Orlando, and an interesting tidbit about themselves.  Besides pearl diving, Courtney M is a full-time graduate student, and originally from Naples, Florida.   Her favorite local attraction is the Manta roller coaster in Sea World, and she likes to vacation in Cape Cod.  When asked about naming fun tidbit about herself, the pearl diving graduate student went another direction, “I always wear wedge sandals.”

Courtney M pearl dives right into grad school

Courtney M pearl dives right into grad school

Alexis D is from Melbourne, Florida and is a finance major at the University of Central Florida (UCF).  Her favorite local attraction is Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and she likes to get away to Puerto Rico for her vacations.  Alexis started dancing when she was eleven, and continued with cheerleading and pom during high school, participated on a competitive dance team, and a hip-hop crew the first two years of college.  When asked about a fun tidbit, Alexis responds, “I love reading romantic books.”

Alexis D during player intros

Alexis D during player intros

Aly is a full-time student, born and raised in Orlando.  She started dancing at a young age and it stuck, as Aly smiles, “I love everything about it, and it is truly my passion.  I don’t plan to stop until I can’t walk anymore.”  Locally, her favorite theme park is Islands of Adventure, and as far a places to travel, Aly says, “Bahamas for paradise!  New York and California are my favorites.”  People might be surprised to know that Aly is really good at wakeboarding.

Aly can wakeboard!

Aly can wakeboard!

 

 

Aly’s best friend is Brittany, and Brittany says, “I love being able to share this experience with her.”  Brittany was born and raised in Winter Park, Florida, and says, “I love representing my hometown!”  Brittany is a Radio/Broadcast TV major at UCF.  Brittany says her favorite local attraction is, “Wet n’ Wild!  I love mixing adrenaline rides with water!”  Brittany recalls, “I started dancing when I was three years old and have been dancing ever since.  I couldn’t imagine a day without it.  I danced competitively at Starz Dance Studios, danced for the UCF Knightmares for a year, and the Orlando Predators’ Prowlers for a year.”

Brittany is a Radio/TV major

Brittany is a Radio/TV major


Courtney G was so gracious after the game, making sure to give me one of her autographed photos, and filling me in on where one could get squad information on the web.  Originally from Boston and raised in Virginia Beach as the oldest of five children, Courtney moved to Orlando to be a dancer at Disney World.  When asked about her favorite theme park, Courtney replied, “I’m a little biased because I work at Disney World and moved to Orlando for Disney.”   For her own vacations, time is limited, but Courtney said, “I mostly go home to Virginia Beach in the summer and often go to Miami!  I would love to escape to the Bahamas!  I also love the ocean and love to surf, or try!”  Courtney’s dance life also started as a tiny dancer, saying, “I’ve been dancing since I was three years old.  It’s been my passion and something I’ve loved to do my entire life.  I stopped dancing for a few years to run track in college and then had a desk job after college.  I was miserable without dance so I had to get back to it.  I heard about the AFL Predators’ auditions and had to give it a try.”

Courtney G is a dancer for Disney

Courtney G is a dancer for Disney

Gizelle is a home town girl, from O-Town, and is studying early childhood education, while also teaching dance classes.  She is also a fan of the Magic Kingdom, and her favorite vacation spot is Miami.  Gizelle also started dancing as an adorable three-year old, and says, “I am very passionate about dancing  I would not be able to live without it.  It takes up all of my life and I would not want it any other way.”  One of her favorites things is ballet.

Someday, kids will love their teacher Gizelle

Someday, kids will love their teacher Gizelle

Jessie is a massage therapist from Winter Springs, Florida.  Her favorite local attraction is Islands of Adventure, and her favorite vacation was to Breckenridge, Colorado to snowboard.  She started dancing at four, and “I’ve danced at many studios and cheered at Winter Springs High School and the Mont Alto campus at Penn State.”  Jessie’s interesting tidbit is, “I make sound effects for everything.”  Could make for some interesting massage therapy, I bet!

Jessie

Jessie

Rachel is originally from San Jose, and is studying studio art with a concentration in printmaking.  This relates to her personal interesting tidbit, as Rachel says, “I cut the tip of my thumb off in art class.”  Ouch!  Talk about suffering for your art!  Being a part of the Tuskers squad seemed out of character to some, because Rachel says, “I am typically known as quiet and shy, many of my friends were surprised.”  She likes to go home to San Jose when she can get away, and locally, likes the Magic Kingdom and anything Disney.  Rachel’s artistic nature extends to dance, as she states, “I am very passionate about dance and performing.  It is my sanctuary and I am happiest there.”  Well, Tusker fans are happy you are out there, too, Rachel!

Rachel

Rachel


Damaged freight inspector Renee is from a small town near Saint Louis, Highland, Illinois.  She has danced her entire life and was on her high school dance team, and danced on cruise ships as well.  Renee’s favorite getaway places are, “Somewhere secluded like an island.  Favorite place, Maui, Hawaii.”  Locally, she likes big roller coasters and Universal Studios, but loves Disney as well.  One interesting thing about Renee is, “I am married and I planned my wedding in four weeks.”  That’s barely enough time to say yes to a dress!

Renee, directly above mascot Tuskie's enlarged head, blows him kisses with the squad

Renee, directly above mascot Tuskie's enlarged head, blows him kisses with the squad


By November, the temperature was quite nice for the evening game, but dealing with heat is part of being on the sidelines in Orlando.  Renee says, “You get used to the heat.  But you have to be smart and stay hydrated.”   Alexis adds, “Eat a light, healthy meal during the morning/afternoon and drink water!”  Jessie chimes in, “A lot of hairspray and waterproof make-up!”

After the final home game, the Tuskers Cheerleaders lined up for end of the year group photos.  Some with the mascot, some with Billie, and, like graduation day, at the end threw their poms aloft to signify the end, but also the beginning, for the talented UFL Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders squad.

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THANKS SO MUCH to Billie O’Hara, Tuskers public relations director Dan Pearson, and the Florida Tuskers Cheerleaders for providing this extensive opportunity to meet this talented and interesting group of women!


The Tuskers Cheerleaders signed autograph cards for fans throughout the game

The Tuskers Cheerleaders signed autograph cards for fans throughout the game

Loren signs posters after the game

Loren signs posters after the game

During Pre-Game introductions of each Cheerleader, Morgan runs as she is announced

During Pre-Game introductions of each Cheerleader, Morgan runs as she is announced

Morgan

Morgan

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Kristin and Chelsea M

Alexis M

Alexis M

Katie

Katie

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Kala

Kala

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Devon

Devon

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Celsea

Celsea

Josselin

Josselin

Trista

Trista

Bri

Bri

Ashley H

Ashley H

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